Doc Searls’ closing keynote at Les Blogs says some interesting things about weblogs and the production of writing — things that for me intersect in curious ways with an essay by John Udell on “The New Freshman Comp” that Collin recently had a lot of smart things to say about. One concern with Udell’s piece, though: Udell argues convincingly that good programmers need to be good writers. (This actually is hardly as suprising as Udell makes it out to be: that’s why we call it writing code.) However, Udell concludes by proposing a non sequitur: the “methods” he describes as being used by programmers — i.e, “screencasting” — should therefore “be a part of the new freshman comp.”
No. Logically, that simply does not follow. I’m much more inclined to buy Jeff Rice’s argument that shifts in technology are producing shifts in consciousness, and that we need to take these shifts into account in our teaching, than I am to buy Udell’s conclusion. (Although I’ll say that Jeff’s argument still feels, for me, uncomfortably close to the technology-is-destiny position of a substantive theory of technology that Andrew Feenberg traces in the work of Jacques Ellul and Martin Heidegger.) Still, Collin’s essay (much more than Udell’s) has got me thinking about the points Doc Searls makes about producing texts, and Doc Searls’ Paris keynote has got me wishing that more of the jet-setting tech folks like Searls would pay attention to arguments like Collin’s and start working on understanding and engaging with the work my discipline’s doing — rather than merely invoking it, as Udell does.